I am currently on my 8th cycle of Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1. What a great program. So simple, focus on basic lifts, add some assistance work, do some sprints, and voila, you are in his words, North Of Vag. It fits perfectly with what I want to do in the gym. Two days a week, I focus on bench press, squats, military press and deadlifts. I do pullups between sets of EVERYTHING. I try to do 100+ every week. Three other days a week, I do kettlebells. pushups, jump rope and sprints. I’ll do front squats with kettlebells and pushups as assistance work to the squat and bench. Another day, I do kettlebell military presses and either double swings or snatches for the shoulders and hamstrings. Simple and effective.
The internet has a lot of great information on it and you can learn a lot. I’ve learned a ton from reading guys like Mike Mahler, Dan John, Jim Wendler and Pat Flynn. Want to get strong with double kettlebells? Mike Mahler is your guy. Want to learn about all around strength and fitness, Dan John is the sage. Jim Wendler provides great articles on strength and variations on his program. Pat Flynn is the king of kettlebell complexes. I’ve communicated with all four and what I’ve found is they want to help you get better. I used to love going to fitness forums. However, I’ve kind of gotten away from participating. In my opinion, Dan John’s is the best one. Small circle of guys with no agendas, similar strength goals helping one another out. There were a couple of ones I used to love to go to, but have gotten away from it. The same stupid questions over and over. If you can’t figure out the Rite of Passage program you didn’t read the book, you’re looking for free information. On 5/3/1, the same questions, what do I do if I get stuck? Simple, put your ego aside, drop the max weight down 15-20 lbs. eat more and blow out the final set. What assistance work should I do? Simple, want to get good at the bench press? Bench. Want to get good at squats? Squat. The other issue is the “there is only one way to do things.” You didn’t do the high bridge in step 3 of the TGU, that’s not acceptable. Whatever.. I just did a 15 minutes of TGU’s with the 88. Keep high bridging the 35. I know who is getting stronger. I remember Logan Christopher, who is a kettlebell mutant, did 300 reps of snatches with a 24 kg bell in 10 minutes. I watched the whole video which he proudly put on the Dragon Door forum. As someone whose all time best is 170, I was mesmerized by the conditioning it took. He was criticized for not locking out at the top. Most of the people couldn’t crack 200. It was ridiculous. So if he locks out he gets 275, big deal. I can’t even go to the other one anymore, the sycophantic ball washing is too much for me.
People don’t see the forest through the trees. This is where thinking for yourself is key. Follow the program as written. The Rite of Passage has a easy day, a medium day and a heavy day. What should I do on variety days? Whatever the heck you want to. Take them off, do snatches, squat, TGU’s, swings, sprints. Anything but presses. Some people recommend taking it easy, I disagree. I liked doing met-con stuff. The way I looked at it was I had a day off before and after heavy day. I recovered and made good gains. On 5/3/1, people are more worried about assistance work. Here, let me help, not doing the 5 sets of leg press isn’t going to make or break your squat. There is definitely a place for assistance work, but it shouldn’t paralyze you. Sometimes, I’ll do rest pause sets after benching and military pressing. Other times not. Some days after squatting, I’ll put 245 on the bar and squat it 20 times, other times just 10. Be creative. For example tomorrow, I’m doing kettlebell squat ladders with double 70 kettlebells. I’ll do this for a 1/2 hour and then do a circuit of 20 pushups, 50 jumps of the rope and a 100 yard sprint. I thought this workout up myself. Sometimes I add kettlebell swings to the circuit. This to me is a great variety day off of 5/3/1.
The key to making an exercise program is to write it out. What is your tangible goal? What program will best help you reach it? How may days a week do you want to workout? Don’t say 7. What are your secondary goals? Just work from there.
My goals: Bench Press 225 by end of year x 5. Military Press 165. Squats and Deadlifts, 2 x my body weight. 5/3/1 with pullups has worked tremendously for me. I want to work out 5 days a week and take two off. My secondary goals are to continue to improve my numbers in kettelbells and be in great condition. So in a perfect week it looks like this
Monday 5/3/1 Squats and Bench Press with Pullups. Treadmill sprints
Tuesday Kettlebell Military Press alternated with Rows. Maybe some kettlebell ballistics such as snatches, snatch to press, double swings outside the knees. This is an assistance day for military press and deadlifts
Thursday Assistance on squats and chest. Kettlebell front squats. (No way am I doing Zercher squats, kettlebell front squats are perfect without the bruises) Pushups done in a circuit with jump rope and sprints for met con
Friday 5/3/1 Military Press and Deadlifts with Pullups. Maybe sprints
Saturday Something fun like TGU’s, Swings, Snatches, and Farmers Carries
There you have it. Cover the basics in a program as it is written. Be creative with your assistance work and variety days.